Do you know what “sacrifice” and “the best” have in common? They’re both wildly overused and abused words that are used to describe something or someone. “The best burger ever!” Really? You’ve had every type of burger in the world and known to man? Recently, if you watched the Super Bowl, you heard about Cam Newton not “sacrificing his body” on a fumble that he had a chance to recover, but is sacrifice the right word to describe his inaction, when going for his own fumble isn’t technically something that’s out of the norm for his very profession and, more specifically, that specific scenario on the biggest of all sports stages?
The very word, sacrifice, became a surprisingly simplistic, mundane internal argument I’ve been having with myself since my wife, one of the two regulars on this blog, wrote “…thank you for all that you sacrifice” in a very moving and appreciative Valentine’s Day card last month. When I read it and asked her what it was she thought I was sacrificing, she said it was because of my current job giving me tennis elbow in both arms, causing a great deal of discomfort and, sometimes, a searing, stabbing pain in both forearm areas at any given time, even on the weekends when I’m supposed to be recovering.
As if on cue, my mind, ever the hyper-analytical and argumentative one, was flooded with various different arguments that I had neither the right person nor the time to vent or argue with about how people, with seemingly blatant ignorance and disregard, throw out a word like sacrifice. Cam Newton is supposed to dive for his own fumble, especially if it’s in the Super Bowl. An outfielder is supposed to dive full-speed for a blooper/pop up, whether it’s the first out of the inning or the final out in Game 7 of the World Series. A Secret Service agent is supposed to take a bullet for whomever he or she has been charged with protecting…but am I supposed to have pain in both of my arms when my job is to edit highly sensitive reports?
The answer is a very resounding NO.
My wife and I met while we both worked at dead-end carnie jobs at Universal Studios; I was working part-time to simply put gas in my car driving to and from UCF to finish my Bachelor’s, and she was being given lip service about how they were going to fast track her to a supervisor position. The ride I worked at, as a menial pawn a.k.a. attractions attendant, had very stiff and unserviced harnesses. After one year of working there, an elbow injury from years of abuse from sports began to flare up, and it got to the point where my doctor thought Tommy John surgery was a viable way to rectify the issue. My wife, on the other hand, hand to sacrifice her overall sanity while she was in charge of people who, quite frankly, were either below or slightly above Forrest Gump-level intellect. Nowhere in that job description did either of us see “risk your future health and mental well-being” in the “primary responsibilities” role.
And now we reach the crux of the issue: when someone legitimately sacrifices something or themselves, not the Cam Newton-lack-thereof version, should that sacrifice go unnoticed? Should someone throwing away their dignity to brown nose and get a promotion and someone risking potential surgery on both arms be constituted as the same type of sacrifice?
This is a tough question for many of you, I’m sure, especially when I ask that you leave politics out of it. You responses are appreciated, but not necessary; I’m simply trying to bring to light an issue that seems to have been forgotten in this chaotic world we live in today.